Comic Louie Anderson has many accomplishments on his resume that he’s proud of. His Emmy-winning “Life with Louie” cartoon series. Hosting “Family Feud.” Appearing in “Coming to America” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Countless HBO specials and late-night talk show appearances.
All are career highlights, said the 62year-old Minnesota native, during a recent phone interview.
But when he meets his fans lately, there’s one topic they most want to discuss.
“Yesterday, I’m at the airport, and a very proper woman got on the plane in first class,” Anderson said. “And she gently took my wrist and said, ‘I was rooting for you all the way on the diving show. I’m very proud of you.’”
Anderson, who appears Saturday at the Kansas Star Event Center in Mulvane, was among the stars who famously appeared on the 2013 ABC celebrity diving show “Splash.” During filming, the then 400-pound Anderson even did a flip from the board – from a seated position. During one of his highest dives, he landed hard in the water, face first.
The dives made headlines around the world.
“I’m very proud of that – at my age that I dove off a 10-meter board,” he said. “I could have been killed.”
These days, Anderson keeps himself on a safer, more familiar platform – a stage. He’s on the road, doing the kind of self-deprecating comedy that made him famous.
Anderson, who was born in Minneapolis, got his comedy start in the late 1970s. A former counselor for abused children, Anderson began performing on the regional comedy club circuit, sharing tragically hilarious stories about his childhood as one of 11 children. In 1981, he was named the winner of the Midwest Comedy Competition. In 1984, Johnny Carson invited him to perform his standup routine on “The Tonight Show,” and he was off.
The next decade brought him hosting jobs, game show spots and comedy specials on HBO and Showtime. He also got parts in movies and television shows. In 1995, Anderson created the Saturday-morning animated series “Life with Louie,” based on his childhood and his relationship with his father. The series earned him two Emmy awards.
His current standup show is still focused on his lifelong struggle with weight; his long-suffering, sweet mother; his loud, unpredictable alcoholic father; and his chaotic childhood.
“I try to do some of my greatest hits,” Anderson said. “People really like the stuff about my mom and dad. I do all the ‘f’ words – family, food, being fat, being over 50. But they’re all clean f words.”
One of the perks of being over 50, Anderson said, has been the realization that years of experience have made him good at what he does. He’s mastered his comedic craft, and he feels more at ease on the stage than anywhere.
His show in the Wichita area should help people forget their problems for an hour and a half while they laugh at his, he said.
“I think I’m as good as I’ve ever been, and that really makes me excited,” Anderson said. “I can go out and do something I started in 1978 and still feel it’s as fresh and new as it was then. My comedy always comes from a super honest place of my foibles, my dilemmas and my screw ups. And that’s what people like – to know they’re not alone in those things.”
If You Go
What: The famous comic will perform his stand-up routine
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Kansas Star Event Center, Mulvane
How much: Tickets are $20 to $40, open to ages 21 and older